I need my makeup to last all day and then some. I might wake up at sunrise, need to do a photo shoot, go on a walking tour, explore a museum, hike a mountain, watch the sunset, go to dinner, and then head to a bar for drinks. And I need my makeup to stay in place the entire time. I know what products that sty all day, no matter where your wanderlust takes you.
I’m finally sharing the best travel makeup (and tips!) after 3 years of traveling almost full time.
I like to do my makeup in the morning, quickly, and have it last all day. As a travel blogger, my schedule is often demanding. I wake up early and often don’t come back until late at night. I also want as much sleep as possible so I can wake up and take on the day. But I do spare about 5-10 minutes to look my best. I’ve scoured the globe, literally, to find the best travel makeup. I always pack the easiest, most travel-friendly, and longest lasting makeup to ensure I’m feeling my best.
Whether you travel often or are always on the move, you need a simple makeup routine that will last. These makeup essentials and tips will help you make packing a breeze because they won’t load you down with too many bulky items. I’ll be sharing the best products, exactly how I apply them, and tips for packing your travel beauty essentials. After all, we deserve to look great no matter where we are. And we shouldn’t need to lug all our makeup around in order to be picture perfect for selfies!
Every single product I’m mentioning has been used for months, sometimes even years. These are staples that I know will stay all day and make you feel pretty.
Here’s what’s in the post:
I’d like to think I’m low maintenance (my husband is cackling at the mere mention of this) but I need makeup when I travel. I know I’m going to be in photos and I like to look put together, even when I’m exploring a new city. Even though I pack everything into a single carry-on backpack, I know that I don’t want to abandon my beauty routine for the sake of space.
If you’re looking for the best makeup for travel I have you fully covered. And I’m not just talking about foundation.
Why Listen to Me
If I’m at home, I can most likely be found watching beauty gurus on YouTube touting the latest contour routine. And while I love watching YouTube (who doesn’t) I know that they often chase new products. I tend to stick with stuff that is tried and true. I don’t have the luxury of a full makeup closet to take with me around the world. So I need to bring what I know works.
I’ve tried and tested the best of the best products. I know what will stay through the long days of roaming the streets of Paris, to the eyeliner that won’t run on the beaches of Barcelona. After traveling almost full time for nearly three years I know these products will work for you.
Travel Makeup Tips
Of course, you want to avoid bulky items. They take up space and are a hassle to pack- especially if you’re trying to cram everything in a carry on for a 21 day trip to Romania. Or maybe that’s just me! I also recommend avoiding glass containers. If it’s dropped, it most likely will break. P.S. here’s how I pack my entire suitcase.
Another way to save space is by using makeup in multiple ways. I often use my bronzer as an eye shadow and a lipstick as a blush. I don’t have room for large, bulky eye shadow palettes or an extra concealer. I’ll sometimes use my powder as a dry shampoo (this really helps to make your hair less oily!). So I try and use each product as much as I possibly can.
Use TSA approved travel containers. These are portable and sized correctly which means your stuff won’t be taken. Remember, it needs to be 3.4 ounces or less liquid in each container. I recommend this brand because it not only comes with bottles, it also includes two small disc containers (kind of like a contact lens size) which is perfect for your foundation. Travel size makeup can really help you save space. A great place to find travel-sized makeup is right here.
I carry a mirror with a light. My mom calls this, “the ugly mirror of truth.” It’s magnified a bit and is the perfect size for a purse or pocket. This is great for checking my teeth fixing, my lipstick (that is always a bit outside my lip line), and great for dim lighting situations or the night time. If you’ve ever been in a hotel with bad lighting (that yellow-green glow is the worst for applying makeup) then this mirror will save you.
Makeup wipes are also something I never travel without. It’s a bonus if you don’t have time to shower to use these and feel refreshed. At night I usually wash my face and moisturize, you can see my entire skin care routine here.
Best Travel Makeup Kits
Palettes are your friend. If you find a palette you like, stick with it. I have a palette that includes bronzer, blush, and highlighter (and I’ll also use these colors for eye shadow). Having this all-in-one makeup kit makes it easy to pack and you’ll have less to think about when packing.
I like travel makeup kits that include options for your eyes, cheek, and highlight. When it’s altogether you won’t forget anything and it’s all in one packaging makes it super simple for travel. Stowaway is an awesome brand that only carries travel-sized cosmetics. They have super high quality formula products and great pricing. If you aren’t picky about brands then Amazon has great travel makeup kits. Also, Clinique has a simple one that includes almost every single thing you need: mascara, blush, eye shadow, bronzer, powder, highlighter, even lipstick, all in this one kit.
You can also find empty palettes on Amazon that have magnets so you can put all your makeup in one place. This also helps you avoid breaking your compacts. Which brings to my next point…
Best Travel Makeup Bag
I’ve broken so many compacts of bronzer I’ve lost count. I remember we were staying in a beautiful Tuscan bed and breakfast that was once a monastery. The sink was a pedestal, and I balanced my bronzer on the edge while I swept blush over my cheeks. A slight nudge and, crash! The compact hit the floor, breaking the bronzer and spewing the contents on the white tile floor. Whoops. If I had packed a travel-size, or a cream based product, this wouldn’t have happened. This bronzer is still with me, but I now have a makeup bag that opens up on all sides so I can rest it anywhere, instead of on the edge of a sink.
I always travel with two makeup bags. Always.
One is for my liquids. It’s a clear, TSA- approved, durable plastic bag where I put my foundation, concealer, lipsticks, toothpaste, etc. Remember, you are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of any liquids, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry on. These liquids need to be in containers that hold 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. These travel containers are the perfect size. If it’s any larger it must go into a checked bag.
The other bag I travel with zips on three different sides which is game changing. I love this because it lays flat and I can easily see all the contents inside the bag. I never knew how much I liked this until I traveled without it. I lose time when I have to fish around in the bag to find something. This handy case is the perfect size to slip into your carry on bag. It’s crushproof so it ensures your brushes stay protected. It’s also a great little organizer.
Best Recommendations for Travel Makeup
First and foremost, my routine is super easy. I usually wake up a few minutes before my husband, and creak into the bathroom in hopes I won’t wake him up. I’m listing everything out in order of appearance, and then explaining how I use it. If you’d like to see this routine in action, I’ve saved it to my Instagram Story Highlight under “Makeup routine.”
I’ve spent a lot of time with these products. Meaning, I’ve tried and tested many different brands and cult beauty favorites, but these are all products I know that will work. Nothing looks worse than patchy makeup after a long day of travel.
Everything I recommend will last all day, is sweat-proof, humidity-proof, and looks natural and beautiful on virtually anyone.
Mac Strobe Cream – after moisturizing with a lotion with SPF, I slather myself in the Mac Strobe Cream. This lightweight moisturizer is packed with botanicals and gives the skin a pearlescent effect, making it look like you didn’t just spend the night tossing and turning getting used to the new hotel bed. There are a few different colors, I get the gold toned one as I feel this makes me look more like a goddess. Which is the point, right?
Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation – The holy grail of all foundations of all time. I have tried so many foundations. This one is the best. Ever. Whether you’re traveling or not, this 24-hour stay-in-place foundation gives you a natural and flawless finish. It is full coverage, evens your skin tone, covers imperfections and makes your skin look beautiful. I cannot live without this foundation. I’m on my 18th bottle. It’s not cheap, but it lasts for months! It looks like your real skin. It comes in more than 40 shades so there are so many options. I apply it with a flat top kabuki brush for super quick application.
Travel application: I squirt one pump on my brush and apply all over my face.
P.S. I love all the brushes from this line.
Moisture Surge CC Cream Hydrating Colour Corrector Broad Spectrum SPF 30 – If I want a more natural look, I’ll mix the Estee Lauder Double wear with this CC cream. It contains SPF so I know I’m protected from the sun!
It Cosmetics CC Cream – If you simply have no time but want to look put together, I swear by It Cosmetics CC cream. It contains SPF 50 so you can wake up, apply this with your fingers, add some mascara and be completely ready for the day.
Tarte Shape Tape Concealer – A cult favorite for a reason. One of the questions I get most often on my Instagram story is: what’s under my eyes? And it’s ALWAYS Tarte Shape Tape. I’ve tried other concealers (Nars, Too Faced, It Cosmetics) but nothing can beat this one. It’s full coverage without giving me any creases or flaking throughout the day. This lasts all day and helps to illuminate your skin. I use a beauty blender to blend it under my eyes.
Travel Application: I wipe the doe foot applicator off the side of the tube (I don’t want too much product) and go underneath my eyes in a triangle shape. I then blend it out with a damp beauty blender. I’ll use any excess on my eyelids, chin, forehead, and nose in that order.
Loose Setting powder – I am convinced this is what keeps my makeup in place. I use this under my eyes and then sweep any excess across my face. It helps matte-ify your skin and gives you a slightly airbrushed look. I love the Laura Mercier translucent loose setting powder, but also recommend the Make Up Forever Pressed powder as well. I’ve used this same exact one for over a year and I still haven’t hit pan yet! Here’s one more option in pressed form as well if the Make Up Forever version isn’t available.
Travel Application: Sweep under eyes, jaw, and forehead. I use the included pad to apply.
Hoola Contour Bronzer – I’m a bronzer addict. Ever since I moved to Germany I have become a much paler version of myself. The Hoola bronzer gives a soft, natural look. I love that it comes in a mini form too so it’s super easy to pack. I particularly like to use this one for contour since it looks very natural. The bronzer does come with a small brush but I’m just not a fan. I like to use a small brush that’s perfect for application on your cheekbones.
Travel Application: I put this on my forehead, cheekbones, sides of my nose, and under my chin.
Too Faced Sun Bunny Bronzer – As mentioned previously, I am very pale. So much so that I look sickly without bronzer. While I use the Hoola bronzer for contour, I use the Too Faced Bronzer to give my skin a luminous, natural looking tan. It gives you a classic glow and is such a universal shade for so many skin tones. This bronzer makes it look like you’ve been kissed by the sun, despite living in Germany where it’s cloudy 87% of the time. I swear by it! I use an angled brush to sweep this all over my face. This also doubles as an eyeshadow and gives a perfect natural look.
Travel Application: Using the angled brush I sweep this all over my face and neck. I use the lighter side all over my eye and the darker side on my crease. I like this brush for eye shadow. It’s dual ended so it’s multipurpose.
Mac Powder Blush – A good blush can really tie the whole look together. I love a natural looking blush to give your cheeks a rosy glow. I love Mac Blushes because they pack well, last forever, and are suitable for all skin tones. I have quite a few colors from this line: Gingerly – for a natural look, Desert Rose – perfect for soft pink cheeks, Peachy Keen – for that coral flush, and Pinch Me – for an everyday, goes-with-everything blush.
Travel Application: I use this fluffy brush and apply this to the apples of my cheeks and the tip of my nose.
Highlighter – I don’t wear highlighter every day, but when I do, I want it to look natural. I go back and forth between a cream one (super easy for travel!) and a pressed highlighter. I’ve tried so many and often feel that highlighters are tricky. They can leave you looking overly made up or a bit ridiculous. The Estee Lauder On the Glow Highlighter is so natural looking. I don’t want to look like I have glitter all over my face. I’d rather look like I have a good sheen. For powder form, nothing beats the Becca Highlighters. They are pigmented, beautiful, and easy to apply. I love the Becca Opal Shimmering Skin Perfector because it gives you a high-impact glow without looking fake.
Travel Application: I use the cream highlighter by dotting it on the top of my cheekbones, then using my finger to blend it out. I’ll also put this in the inner corner of my eye, my brow bone, tip of my nose, and cupids bow of my lip. I’ll use the small eye shadow brush for the powder version and apply it to the same places.
Mac Fix + Setting Spray – After all your hard work, it’s time to set everything in place. I use the Mac Fit + setting spray. It helps to ensure your makeup doesn’t stray and refreshes your skin. I also think this helps tie your makeup all together so you look fresh.
Travel Application: I spritz once or twice on my face. Great to also refresh throughout the day.
Maybelline Brow Drama – I don’t like overdone brows. I think it looks like Lady Gaga in “A Star is Born” put a piece of tape over her real eyebrows. I am blonde, but my eyebrows are not. I like to keep them in place and add just a bit of oomph. I like the budget friendly Brow Drama Sculpting Eye Brow tool from Maybelline. It’s also super quick to apply. I feel like people spend 10 minutes on their eyebrows. I don’t have time for that. I swipe and go.
Travel Application: I use this in an upward motion on my eyebrows to keep them in place and add a bit of color. I’m in the shade blonde.
Travel Application: Use one coat and let it sit for about 30-45 seconds before applying mascara. You want it to be slightly tacky.
Monsieur Big Mascara – My favorite part! Mascara always transforms my look. I’ve tried so many mascaras, but always reach for this one. This 24-hour long lasting, never flaky, black mascara is the best out there. It gives you big volume and it never smudges. I hate that racoon look and despise when mascara ends up under my eyes after a long day. This never falters. There is a drug store option here, but I still think Monsieur Big is better. Long and thick lashes forever y’all.
Travel Application: Apply a few coats for maximum, dramatic lashes.
If you struggle with long lashes, I recommend a lash booster, like this one from Neu Lash.
Best Long-wearing Lipsticks
Lipstick needs a category of its own. I am a lipstick junkie. When I moved abroad with just two suitcases, I still managed to fit nearly 75 lipsticks in my bag. I think they fit the mood and make you feel instantly pretty. I have what seems like every color on the planet, yet always find myself gravitating to purchasing a new dusty rose color.
I personally like to wear long-wearing lipstick so I know it won’t budge. I’ve tried them all. Really, I even ordered an expensive brand that people were raving about and I had to drive to the post office in Germany, wait in line for half an hour, and pay an additional deposit just to get some lipstick. It’s safe to say I’m committed.
There are four brands that I think have a beautiful range of colors, last all day, and aren’t overly drying.
Mac Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolor – This lipstick does not budge. I’ve worn this everywhere- swimming, drinking, eating pizza and ice cream (you know, for research purposes) and it stays all day. I do wish there were more shades (I’d buy them all) but I particularly love the shade “Lady be Good”. I usually pair this with a liner underneath.
Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Lip Color – I cannot get over how awesome these drug store lipsticks are. These matte lipsticks come in a variety of beautiful shades (I prefer the shade “Lover”). The formula is a bit sticky but it lasts into the next day (you know, if you forget to take makeup off) and it hasn’t budged. Incredible. Sometimes I’ll top with this Maybelline Color Sensational lipstick in “Baddest Beige”.
Dior Addict Lip Tattoo – The most luscious colors that look so natural. This looks good with or without makeup. Just put it on and you look instantly lovely.
Sephora Lip Cream Stain – So many colors and last all day. These silky colors glide on and make for a gorgeous stay-all-day, highly pigmented color.
Best Travel Sized Makeup, Products, and Skin Care
These are products that are ready to go, already in travel sized form! There are travel sizes for Amazon right here, Ulta here, and Sephora here. Target also has a pretty good selection of travel size makeup. That means, it’s TSA approved (under 3.4 oz) and it will easily fit in your carry on. Here are my travel sized makeup recommendations:
It Cosmetics CC Cream – SPF 50 and evens skin tone, perfect if you’re in a rush.
Hoola Mini Bronzing Powder – Benefit has tons of small sized, travel friendly makeup products.
Mac Fix + – you don’t want to carry around a bulky bottle. This 1 ounce (30 ml) size is perfect for travel and gives you room in your carry on. Another option is the travel size Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray.
Benefit Roller Liner Liquid Eyeliner – I’m not really an eyeliner girl. But if I am, I want it to be small and easy. This one meets all those criteria and lasts all day.
Tarte Pro Glow Palette – I mentioned that I loved a good palette to make carrying your makeup a breeze. I like this one from Tarte. It comes with blush, highlighter, and bronzer. I also like this one from Sephora.
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm – I am obsessed with cleansing balms. I just think it’s the best way to remove makeup without damaging your skin, particularly your eyes. I prefer the Colleen Rothschild version (these containers from Amazon also work well). I put this in a small sample size of an Estee Lauder cream and take it with me. But I also love the Clinique version of this as well. Check out my entire skin care recommendations here. These are the same exact products I’ve been using and swear by for over 5 years!
Gillette mini Razor – I know this isn’t makeup, but I had to include this razor. It is the perfect mini size and even comes with a handy little case.
Mini Straightener – This little straightener is so small it fits in a little pocket in my travel backpack. I use this on days when I need to look a little more polished. I also recommend this mini blow dryer. For more travel hair recommendations, check out this post.
Lastly, sharing the backpack I travel with. I did so much research on this bag, and there is simply nothing better than the Osprey Porter Back Pack. I have traveled with it on 2-day trips all the way to 3 weeks plus. It just seems to keep expanding! It is small enough to be a carry on and comfortable enough to walk with all day.
I know, I know, I recommended a lot of makeup products. I wanted to make sure to give you the best travel makeup tips, products, and holy-grail products to help you make choosing the best a breeze.
I’d love to know… what are your travel make up must haves?
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You might also like: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Like a Travel Blogger
This post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by the brands mentioned, but I did use affiliate links throughout.